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[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
yeah NO
Swell Henry
Squealer Music

Rating: 8/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Jazz music is a lot like chocolate. There is a large variety of chocolate available, each with varying degrees of quality. The underlying ingredients are deceptively simple - cocoa beans, milk, and sugar - but depending on where it's made and the various blends of each, you can taste countless textures and flavors. If you are a chocolate fan, then there is, in many ways, no such thing as bad chocolate. At the same time, those fans must recognize that some chocolates are rich and deeply satisfying and others merely bland and forgettable.

To follow through with this metaphor, consider Swell Henry, by Chris Speed's ensemble yeah NO, to be a large sampler box of incredibly expensive Swiss chocolates. This is jazz of the highest quality.

Each track can be savored on its own, as each is slightly different than the next. There are free-jazz pieces, along with slower, more traditional sounding pieces. There's a little bit of fusion and even a dub-influenced track. All succeed. There is not one bite you'll want to spit out, or to try and sneak back in the box. Whether you are in the mood for a little taste, or to take several in at once, you will doubtlessly enjoy the experience.

Just as chocolate is only as good as the ingredients that go into it, and the skill of those that craft it, so is Swell Henry a product of fine musicianship. This is truly an ensemble piece, as group playing is emphasized over solos, so as such, all members should be mentioned equally: Chris Speed on tenor sax and clarinet, Cuong Vu on trumpet, Skuli Sverrisson on bass and Jim Black on drums. There are no false moments, no rough spots, and no bad bites that make your face scrunch up in disapproval. The quality is consistent throughout every minute, every ounce of every piece.

Okay, so I've stretched this metaphor about as far as I can, right? Let's just sum up: Swell Henry is one sweet record.

Reviewed by Dan Filowitz
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.

See other reviews by Dan Filowitz



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